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The Price of Bearing Arms

This post will probably offend some of you; sorry about that, but I feel that I need to be part of the conversation. 
The United States needs to have effective and sensible gun regulation, and needs it now.

If you find yourself posting anti gun-regulation propaganda, and “Pray for the latest mass shooting town/school.” You are part of the problem. Your thoughts and prayers, offered while advocating for policies that result in mass shootings, are empty. When you fight against progress your well wishes are less than worthless, they are insulting. 

“But, the second amendment says that Americans have the right to have guns.” Yes, that’s true, but the key word is ‘amendment,’ because laws are changeable. 

Just a few weeks ago, when the last U.S. mass shooting happened, a meme made its way around Facebook, saying that “gun control is like making it harder for licensed drivers to buy cars, in order to stop drinking and driving.” No, that’s not what it’s like at all. Sensible gun control would be like requiring people to take a test, and be licensed before allowing them to drive a car on public roads. Smart gun regulation would be like having motorists register their cars with the DMV. Intelligent gun regulation would be like requiring people who own a car to carry liability insurance to cover damages from car accidents. Requiring people to be licensed, to register their cars, and to carry insurance, does not stop people from driving, it doesn’t stop them from owning cars, and it doesn’t stop all car related injuries, but it really helps make public roads safer.

I saw a conspiracy theory, that all the shootings in the U.S. are part of a plot to seize America’s guns. They will only stop after the government has finally changed the laws to take away the guns … 

Well, based on the results from every other developed country, the mass shooting would stop if the guns were taken away, and it would have nothing to do with secret government plans. Just like that scary plan by the UN to eradicate starvation by providing food to people, the big bad government wants to prevent gun violence, by reducing the number of guns … it’s a conspiracy!

Gun policy is one of the issues that I can’t grasp why it is as it is. I could understand arguing about multiple solutions to the problem; I can grasp differing opinions on the best policies to effectively balance individual rights, and the rights of society. What I can’t understand is how any person can see a mass shooting every other week as a reasonable price to pay for the “right to keep and bear arms.” 

Building Bridges 

This image has found its way onto many social media feeds, and is the source of mixed reactions.My wife’s reaction is anger, she tosses her Kindle on the bed in frustration, “I don’t know if I want to cry, or yell, or just stay off of Facebook … it isn’t fair to lump all Christians into a category like that. There are Christians who want to treat all people with love and compassion, they would never tell anyone that God doesn’t love them …”

I imagine she feels similar to a Muslim, when lumped with terrorists or extremists marching in the streets, or told how, “moderate Muslims need to speak out against the radicals.” They are! But since when does reason and moderation sell?

Just because there are Christians who say hateful things, doesn’t mean that all Christians are hateful; just like Islamic extremists do not demonstrate that Muslims are all extremists. 

While I was still a believer, I outgrew the dogma of my particular religion. I couldn’t see how God could be small or petty, I felt that we are all looking for the truth, that “we see through a glass, darkly …” I gave up thinking that my beliefs were the ultimate Truth and others were wrong, rather I felt we are all on a spectrum of truth and should seek understanding and common ground. I tried to adopt the sentiment that, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬) I believe there are many Christians who feel similar. Do some people need to feel uncomfortable? With so many sharing the label yet behaving hatefully yes, but I also think some need to be encouraged. 
The backlash against the current Christian based homophobia has made many thoughtful Christians feel very uncomfortable. The label they identify with has taken on a lot of baggage. Baggage that they would rather not carry. I know my wife, and know that she does not deserve to be labeled as homophobic or hateful. At the same time, I cannot deny that hate and homophobia are coming from Christians. If Christians want to not be associated with the hate, they need to distance themselves from it.
While it can feel satisfying to score points against people who are self righteous asses, I don’t think we win as a society by pushing away those who would be our allies in social progress. Why get bogged down, arguing details with people who would rather join us in building a better world? In a conversation about believers and nonbelievers working together, Jerry DeWitt said, “Ultimately it doesn’t matter if Jesus existed or doesn’t exist. Has a perfect record in the Bible, or not. Whether the Bible is legitimate or if Jesus was an alien monkey. It really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the Jesus that Mark follows and wants to emulate, that Jesus to that Mark is a humanist and that is where bridges can be built.” (Viviano, David., Feb. 8, 2014., Common Ground Conversations)
So my position is this, it is not your faith, creed, colour, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation that make me your ally or not. It is your view of humanity, and the direction you want to see society go. If you want to see more love, more that is good, more that is noble, more that is worthy of praise, than we can work together.

“Now I don’t want anything. What was precious is gone.”

I have seen a post floated around by many family and friends, which claims that Canadian seniors should file for refugee status as they will get (the numbers vary) more money from the government as refugees than from their pension. Please stop.First. Would you really wish being a refugee on anyone? A refugee is defined as, a person forced to leave their home country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Please stop pretending that these people are the coming for some easy money, in most cases they have lost everything. 

Second. All of these posts are based on misunderstandings (and outright lies). The version placing the story in Canada is at least the third in a chain, traced by snopes to a chain email from 2004 about U.S. Social Security payments and Cuban refugees, then it resurfaced as Australians, now it’s Canadians. It is still false. Refugees receive around $2500 as a one time payment to help get settled, then almost $600 per month to cover expenses until they are employed. They have lost everything, and people begrudge them $600 per month?

Third. This story is shared around because it plays off of human nature’s tendency to group people into in and out groups, vilifying the out group. It relies on ignorance of ones own situation, and assumptions of the worst about others. Should the pension system be better funded? Yes. Vote for MLPs and MPs who will help to fix it, but don’t blame a broken system on people fleeing because of their broken lives.

Aside from the fact that it is not accurate, there is no good reason to forward or share that post, and many reasons not to. 
“Now I don’t want anything. What was precious is gone.” Abdullah Kurdi (A man; a refugee, who’s wife and two small children died while trying to flee Syria)

#IHaveADream that #BlackLivesMatter

There is a trend that I have observed among friends and acquaintances on Facebook; It parallels what we are told by social scientists is happening across the country, and I am disturbed by it, by the polarization of points of view, and the loss of diversity of opinions. What has brought this to the forefront of my mind are simple posts and memes, shared by people who I know are kind and thoughtful, yet what they share is so counter to what I think I know of them. Posts that I simply can’t wrap my mind around are coming from generous and loving people, people who I have never heard a hateful word from, people who I have respect for. 

I understand and accept that I will disagree with everyone about something, and most people about at least a few things, but I simply can’t understand how these people, whom I respect deeply, can see things so differently from me, and often so differently from how I remember them seeing things not long ago. 

Being raised Seventh-day Adventist. I was taught that we had a proud heritage of being pacifists, after all “blessed are the peacemakers.” We didn’t have any guns in our home growing up, I didn’t even have toy guns. This may have been unique to Seventh-day Adventists in Canada and the eastern United States, but I don’t think so. I was told of how Desmond Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism despite refusing to carry a weapon in combat. I was taught that while it was not necessarily wrong to kill in defense of the innocent, such as when a soldier or police officer has to take a life in the line of duty, that it is better to try and find another way. 
Why are so many Adventists posting proudly about their right to own guns, there willingness to kill? Why are they sharing articles about riffles designed with Bible verses to keep the muslims from touching them? I seriously don’t understand when gun ownership became a Christian virtue, when it became an Adventist virtue. The issue of gun violence is one that I don’t understand, why are people so polarized? When did conscientious objectors become vocal advocates for firearms and opposed to any discussion of gun policy? Why is this topic off the table of rational discussion? If someone wants to drive on public roads, they are required to have adequate training, pass tests, be licensed, and carry insurance. Because driving carries inherent risks, we need to know that those on the road are reasonably safe and have insurance to cover the accidents which do occur. Why is it so controversial to suggest that training be required for firearms? Why is it so offensive to suggest licensing, registration, and liability insurance? Why are so many people who I know, but have never known to care about guns, so passionate about stopping any conversation about gun policy?

 When I was growing up, I was told to always stand up for those smaller than me. That could be a younger sibling, or a stranger, and it wasn’t limited to physical strength. I was taught not to make fun of people with disabilities, not to make jokes at the expense of others and to defend those unable to defend themselves, to champion the oppressed, the outcast, and those in the minority. 

When did it become a Christian virtue to put down minorities? When did it become the American dream to keep out those seeking a path to a better life or refugees from war? When did it become the ideal to keep what is ours and not share with those who are in need? When did it shift from being our responsibility to do “for the least of these,” to doing for ourselves only? I’d like to know, when did the shift happen? How do people I respect seem to find selfishness a virtue? When did “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” become “piss off, we’re full”? When did it become a sign of weakness to care for our sisters and brothers, to love humanity? Why is it that so many, who would never speak out in hatred against another based on the color of there skin, are so quick to share memes full of anger because of skin color? Make no mistake, sharing posts labeled #AllLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter is the same as shouting #EveryoneHasADream at Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “I have a dream…” yes, all lives matter, yes we all have dreams, but sometimes it is time to talk, and at others it is time to listen. When did it become a virtue to stand against those working for racial equality? 

I was raised to be aware of world around me, and to see it as a gift. From the plants and animals, to clean air and pure water the Earth is our home and we should treat it with respect. As I said, I was raised Seventh-day Adventist, and growing up I was taught that God created the Earth, that the Earth is his, and we are stewards of the Earth. I was taught that we are to take care of the Earth, the plants, the animals, the environment. This value is part of me deeply. Of course I want to take care of the Earth, I need to take care of the Earth, if I don’t I destroy my home, I destroy my children’s home. 
When did it become an Adventist value to ignore the destruction of the Earth? When did being a Christian in America become synonymous with being against environmental regulation and protection? When did the idea of caring for the Earth, caring for our home, become entangled with a political agenda? I don’t understand how people I know, people I respect, not only stand by and allow others to damage our environment, but they go out of their way to share memes and support policies that make it easier to do so. For what? Maybe a few dollars less on the monthly heating bill?

Growing up in the Adventist church, I was told how important it was to have separation between church and state. Religious liberty was preached in church, taught as something we needed to support in Adventist schools, and offerings were collected to further promote freedom of religion around the world. I was told how it is important for Adventists to advocate for religious freedom, because it is everyones responsibility to defend each other’s right to their religion, otherwise only the most dominant religions will have a voice and will force everyone to follow their beliefs.
When did Adventism become mainstream enough that “religious liberty” means forcing others to follow “God’s law”? When did it happen? Some of the people I have seen sharing photos and posts, telling how it is “religious persecution” to stop people from imposing their beliefs on others, I have also seen in the front of the church asking people to donate money to support the separation of church and state. When did that change? Why are Adventists now wanting laws based on religious beliefs to be the law of the land? When did it become persecution to tell someone that they can’t discriminate against people because they have different beliefs than you? Growing up, I was told that the greatest threat to religious freedom comes not from government dictating to the church, but from the church gaining power over the government and trying to legislate “God’s law”. Am I mistaken about my memories? Am I wrong that the Adventist church stood opposed to legislating religious beliefs? Am I confused about the message I’ve heard, of the importance of defending everyone’s religious freedom lest we lose our own freedoms? Am I wrong, or has the message changed?

There are other topics that people post that leave me wondering, and maybe I’ll talk about those some time, but for now I am left concerned and confused. I’m left caring about people, knowing that they are kind and decent, but frustrated that they seem to have taken a stand for things, that from my point of view seem to be the wrong side of the issue, the wrong side of history, the wrong side of humanity.

Science vs. Bikini model 

A Facebook acquaintance posted an antivax video, captioning it, “Watch this video … very interesting …” Why are so many people eager to ignore the vast collections of data, peer reviewed journals, medical researchers, and public health agencies, and flock to follow discredited attention whores? I admit that this is a hot button topic for me and I tend to perhaps state things more firmly than normal conversation would require. While I think it is a very important topic, I’ll try to keep myself in check.

“Very interesting,” is not how I would describe the video. That’s akin to describing North Korean news as “informative.”

It is hard to even identify where to start with this deliberate and deceptive attack against public health.

One: there is mercury, then there is mercury. Methylmercury and ethylmercury are both mercury containing, organic compounds, found in nature. Methylmercury is highly toxic and has a very long half life, allowing it to build up in body systems. Methylmercury is most frequently ingested from seafood, where it can occur in quite high levels due to bio accumulation (small amounts in many small organisms becoming a large amount in a single large organism).

Ethylmercury on the other hand has a very short half life and is easily eliminated from the body. Ethylmercury does not bio accumulate as organisms at each trophic level are able to eliminate it from their system. Ethylmercury is a normal metabolic byproduct of many compounds, that is, your body makes it as a product of metabolizing other things.

Nearly every health concern surrounding mercury is regarding methylmercury.

The much maligned vaccine preservative Thimerosal, during the process of elimination from the body, is broken down by the body into ethylmercury, and then eliminated.

The negative neurological effects of mercury are well documented, they are not the same as autism, and they are not confused with autism. In every peer reviewed study, by universities, public health agencies, government research departments, and private corporations, there has never been a link between mercury and autism demonstrated.

Two: Autism rates have increased, and the greatest amount of increase occurred between 2000 and 2010, with diagnosis rates increasing by 119%. The reason for this increase is not known. It is known that not all of the increase can be accounted for by better diagnostic techniques or new criteria.
Thimerosal has not been in use in children’s vaccines since 2001. Even if (and the evidence is against the idea) mercury was linked to autism, even if ethylmercury was harmful and persistent (which it isn’t), why would the increase in autism rates occur after it is no longer in the vaccines? What mechanism could account for that?

Three: The initial article published in the Lancet, linking autism and the MMR vaccine was retracted. From methodology, conclusion, data collection, and conflict of interest disclosure, the entire article was not simply wrong, it was fraud. Wakefield used informal conversations with the parents of 12 children as his data set. He never mentioned that he was a stakeholder in a vaccine manufacturer trying to bring a competing vaccine to market. There are legitimate scientists who come to wrong conclusions, Wakefield was found guilty of fraud and stripped of his license to practice medicine.

Four: Autism is a life changing diagnosis. It can consume time and energy from parents, teachers, and effort from those with it. If the causes were known, that would be a breakthrough for public health.

Most of the diseases that we vaccinate against have life changing possibilities. Deafness, developmental delays, learning disorders, vision problems, and death, are all linked with many of the diseases regularly immunized against.

The rates of autism rates are consistent between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. If vaccination was causally linked to autism, why would the unvaccinated and autistic rate be the same as the vaccinated and autistic rate?

While there is no evident link between vaccines and autism, there is definitely a link between not vaccinating and vaccine preventable disease rates. Autism doesn’t protect from measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, etc, but vaccines do. As much as I don’t want people to have to deal with autism, I don’t want them to have to deal with measles, I also really don’t want autistic kids to have to deal with the measles.
The antivax crowd claim that vaccines are all about money and deception, but antivax activists never share how much they are being paid for their books and speeches, it isn’t nothing. While the antivax activists continue to bring out the same discredited articles over and over, there have been tens of thousands of studies, performed in hundreds of countries, by thousands of scientists, with billions of subjects, over decades, demonstrating that while there are known risks, vaccines are safe and effective, and along with antibiotics are the greatest breakthrough in medicine.

Sometimes, it isn’t persecution. Sometimes, you’re just an ass.

One man stands with a megaphone, another with a poster board sign. “HELL IS FOR REAL!” The sign proclaims, the man with the megaphone does a poor imitation of Ray Comfort’s signature gimmick, “have you ever lied? Ever stolen?” He is getting in a young woman’s face and it’s obvious she’s afraid. A young man walks up and tells the man with the megaphone to stop it, the lady takes the opportunity to gather her children and rush into the grocery store.
My eleven year old daughter says from the back seat, “why are they so mean? They were scaring that lady.”

The conversation, started by that simple question lasted more than the drive home, and has been continued a few times. Why are they so mean? Why so pushy, so in your face?

I talked to one of them this on an occasion when my kids weren’t with me.

They need to share “God’s love and salvation through Jesus Christ with the lost sheep of the world.” Pointing out that the town’s demographics show over 85% of residents are Christians brought out the claim that they are the wrong type of Christians, not “real” Christians. Asking why they felt the need to be so confrontational, and suggesting that they may have a better reception if they engaged people in a more kindly manner, earned a replied that it wasn’t, “my job to have a good reception, but to warn people they are going to hell.”

Each time he answered my questions it was into his megaphone pointed at passers by, including them unwillingly in the conversation.

“I notice you have moved from Safeway to here, why?” The answer was a mixture, Satan and the store manager had conspired with the police to have them told that they couldn’t preach Jesus from the parking lot there. Now they were on a public sidewalk no longer blocking traffic so they were fine. He explained how Satan was always sending angry people to them, to yell at them and try to get them to be quite and go away, but they wouldn’t give in. “Jesus said in, in, in the book of, the Bible, that ‘they will persecute you for my name.'”

See, he knew that he was doing God’s work, because people got mad at him. People being upset was his proof that he was right. That was the answer I had given my daughter, that he was so aggressive because he wanted people to be mad at him. I explained to her that many people read,

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭5:10-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

and “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9 NIV), and they go looking for it. Because of their interpretation of the Bible, they take all negative feedback as confirmation that they are right, and it becomes positive reinforcement for them.

The Bible is full of bad ideas, I think that the persecution fetish encouraged by verses like these is one of the most harmful. How many lives have been wasted on alienating friends, family, neighbors, because their anger is proof of God’s favor? People picketing funerals, and spewing vile, hateful things against others, yet claiming to do it for Jesus, don’t take criticism as showing them their errors, it is all confirmation that they are right, after all Jesus said so.

Christians today in America are still the vast majority; they still have privileges and perks not available to outsiders, but they are crying “Persecution!” louder than ever. Every legal decision that grants non Christians rights is viewed as erosion of Christian rights. Every lawsuit against Church intrusion into schools or city hall is persecution. Each time their privilege is pointed out, they bellow about how they are on the brink of being sent to the ovens, and they don’t seem to have a clue that most of those sent to their deaths in the holocaust weren’t Christians, unlike most of those operating those ovens. Don’t worry though, those weren’t “real” Christians.

The same attitude that street preachers have, that big mouths on tv show, and ridiculous preachers yell from pulpits, is shown by people without large platforms daily, and as I have responded on Twitter,

“I can’t say that I “know” what your game is, but I do know this. The affect of your behavior will always be poor reactions. You show that “Christians” are insulting, close minded, disingenuous, jerks, further driving people away from your stated goal of inviting them into a relationship with Jesus, and those of us who have been Christians but for whatever reason have come to disbelief, will write you off as a self deluded (expletive deleted). Either way, you can continue feeling as self righteously satisfied as the proverbial Pharisee praying, “I thank you God that I am not like other men…” You can chalk up insults returned as “persecution” and tell yourself that “Jesus said the world will persecute me if I’m being a good Christian, so this is confirmation.” or pat yourself on the back for “shining God’s light into the darkness.” Your treatment of nonbelievers cannot draw us toward your version of belief, only push away. You should also know that sometimes people pointing out that you’re being an ass isn’t persecution because you’re a True Scotsman/Christian, they’re pointing it out because you’re being an ass.”

Response to a question, “what are the three main reasons that you don’t believe in God?”

I received a survey question from a college friend, he is now a Christian pastor, and he was conducting a survey of believers, “what are your three main reasons for belief?” and atheists, “what are your three main reasons that you don’t believe?”

While I know that I have covered some of this before, I thought I would share my response to his questions:

 In response to your question of if you are an atheist, what are your top three reasons for not believing in God? While my gut reaction leans toward, “because I have no good reason to believe.” This is a position of very weak atheism, and I find that the more I think and study, the more positive and strong I am in not believing. Not only do I simply “not believe any god claims,” which is all the atheist title implies, but I am nearing the point where I “believe there are probably no gods.” 

My trip to non belief has been long, and I can’t easily limit ‘why’ I don’t believe to three simple reasons, but here goes my attempt:

 1. If God exists, why is He hidden? As a parent, I want to have a relationship with my children. I provide for them, I teach them, and spend time with them. I understand that, as people say, “God will never force people to believe,” but why does He not provide sufficient evidence so that those of us who begged and prayed for (literally) years, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” Why, despite promises that if you seek you will find, did God never show up while I was losing faith? After years of seeking, I began to suspect that the reason I couldn’t find was that He wasn’t there.
 2. If any religion is true, shouldn’t it be evidently true? I know that people say that the reason Christians are not, as a group, better behaved or better citizens than the general population, is that the church is a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints. But there is no evidence that Christianity does any better at changing lives than any other religion. More damning is the fact that some non-religious therapies, and many secular philosophies, evidently do a better job of creating more thoughtful and empathetic citizens than any religion. If there were a True religion, a true god who has revealed himself to humanity, shouldn’t that truth be a unifying force? Convincing people of its truth and demonstrably being true, so that many denominations, interpretations, and religions, are refined to a single religion, single text, single interpretation, single version? If it is True, why is it not evidently true? Why do some denominations insist that the universe is less than 10,000 years old, while there are stars that we can look at that are billions of light years away? Why is it that each time a phenomenon attributed to God is studied it is found to have a natural explanation?

 3. I cannot see how a god with the usual attributes is possible. While some argue that “free will” defeats the “logical problem of evil,” I don’t care on a pragmatic and practical level. If God is loving, why is there evil? If it is caused by our “free will,” didn’t His omniscience inform him that ‘as created’ humanity would freely choose evil? If He knew this, wouldn’t His omnipotence allow him to create humanity slightly differently, change the conditions, so that they would freely choose good? If He could not create things differently, than He cannot be maximally powerful. If He did not know, He cannot have maximal knowledge. If He knew, and could have created differently, but chose to create a world where we have and will continue to suffer, than He is not maximally loving. This is the question which finally broke my faith. I have never found any satisfactory answer to it. While the other two points were chinks in my belief, it is the real world as it is that has convinced me that there probably is no god, and if there were, it cannot be anything like the god I was taught about, and not any kind of being I could love or worship. 

Finding My Morality

  I have a confession to make. I do find my morality in the Bible, and so can you.

It seems to be common among atheists to say that the Bible is devoid of morality, this just isn’t the case. The issue is, that we each can find our morality in the Bible, each and every one of us.

If you take the Bible as a preserved collection of mythology, spanning thousands of years, with many authors, revisions, editions, and translations. You see that the Bible has been relevant to humanity for so many generations, not because it is true with a capital T, but because it contains truth about the human condition.

I keep saying “the Bible” but I find my morals in the Iliad, in Hamlet, in The Lord of the Rings, in the Bhagavad Gita, and so many other works that have shaped who I am.

If you hold that the Bible is the inerrant and immutable word of an unchanging god, you will not find my morality in it. If you hold that the Bible is a book of mythology, passed down and revised over generations, telling stories, important to people past; you can find my morality, and find humanity. As a moral textbook the Bible fails miserably, as mythology it’s great.

The “I’m right, cause I’m not wrong, cause I’m right” argument for God.

Many people believe in some form of special creation. There are two primary arguments (though I use the word loosely) which they rely on as proof of their preferred deity as the causal agent. I am not seeking to win points in a formal debate with this, but merely to explain why these arguments do not sway me.The first argument is the, “look around” argument. Depending on intellectual honesty this argument often devolves into various semantic games like “a creation must have a creator”. All arguments from complexity or appeals to design seem to be versions of the look around argument. I admit that while I was a believer I found many versions of the design and/or complexity arguments compelling. As I pursued deeper understanding of the topics, I always found that there was a point where I no longer saw a need for a deity to be involved. 

If you study planetary motion, stellar motion, galactic motion, and gravity, you learn that there is no requirement for a divine hand guiding the Cosmos. 

Closer to home, geology provides compelling explanations for the way the planet works, without the need for supernatural input. 

Surely life must require the breath of an omnipotent being? Well, there are still unanswered questions about the beginning of life, but there are living cells whose DNA was written by humans, printed from amino acids by a computer, and inserted into a host cell which had been stripped of its own DNA. We witness amino acids on comets, and complex strands forming by natural processes, and I confess, I believe that we will continue to find more evidence of life’s begin and it will continue to not require supernatural explanation.

The second type of argument is the, “you know I’m right but you’re a big lying liar.” There are versions of it, from the simplistic “God did it and you know that cause God says you know that in the book God wrote that says He did it and that you know it cause it says so in this book…” to the sophisticated, “real science proves that God did it because anything which disagrees with God having done it is not real science. Since everything that goes against my notion of God is false science, all science agrees with my view of God. If all science agrees with my view of God than science shows that God did it because if it doesn’t show that God did it than it isn’t science, so science isn’t science unless God scienced the science, God, God, science, God.”

Essentially this argument is:

P1: I am right.

P2: If I am right, than I am not wrong.

P3: If I am not wrong, than I am right.

C: I am right, therefore I am not wrong, because I am right. Not wrong.

This is the goto for presuppositional apologetics, and those who engage in it should take the other meaning of apology and ask for forgiveness of their blatant public intellectual defication. It does not matter that you interpret your Holy book in such a way that you think it says that you are right. I put no more stock in the validity of your Holy book than you put in the veracity of Mother Goose. Simply claiming that you are correct because you think you are does not make you correct and does nothing to make me accept your conclusion. If you hold reason and evidence to be important, than you cannot simply assert that you are correct, and that because you are correct everything that doesn’t confirm your view is wrong. Intellectual honesty requires that you examine the information and draw conclusions from it, rather than discard everything that goes against your point of view.

A follow-up to the point about intellectual honesty. Many creationists now take the line of, “we all see the same evidence, we just interpret it differently, me by trusting the (holy book or person), and you by having faith in your (atheist, godless, materialist, etc) view. At least I admit that I am biased.” Do they have a point? After all, we all suffer from cognitive biases. Are we just fooling ourselves into thinking that our position has the evidence and theirs doesn’t, because we don’t ‘see’ the evidence the same way? In short, no. There are people who insist that the world is a stationary disk. They have ways to explain away everything that shows the Earth is a globe, they believe there is a global conspiracy of all scientists and pilots, governments and sailors, not to mention pretty much everybody who doesn’t buy into their notion of a flat Earth. This is what creationists do too. They ignore mountains of convergent information, all of it showing that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that life has been evolving on Earth for over 3 billion of those years. They reject countless studies demonstrating how we know this is so. They attack Charles Darwin and The Origin of Species, not even realizing that over 150 years of research and development of the theory of evolution has occurred since Darwin published his book. They point to two or three hoax fossils and claim that proves that all of the millions found are false too. If they don’t claim they are outright frauds, they claim that they are not what they evidently are. They reject radio metric dating, while accepting atomic clocks and smoke detectors. They insist that every observation of the universe is wrong, every law of physics is wrong, every scientist, every teacher, and every advocate for science is wrong and/or involved in a conspiracy to dupe the masses into believing lies. Their reason is their holy book. They ignore that there book was written by humans. They ignore that it was translated by humans. They don’t care that it is a faulty guide, written by men. To them, it is the Word of God. Infallible and beyond reproach. They cannot accept anything which contradicts their book because they are committed to the truth of their book at the expense of all else, and they are proud of that. They trust their interpretation of their book more than the combined mental work of the greatest human minds of recorded history. It isn’t a simple matter of seeing the evidence differently, They don’t see the evidence at all.

A Million Monkeys with Keyboards…

One of the common analogies for why evolution can’t be real (along with junk yards and tornados) is that if you had a million monkeys with keyboards, they wouldn’t ever produce the complete works of Shakespeare. This is a way of trying to show how very complex DNA is and therefor God.
Take a million monkeys. Each has a keyboard attached to a computer. When any key stroke produces a letter combination that better matches the selective pressure (that of conforming to the complete works of Shakespeare) that combination will be preserved. At varying time intergers, all successful words are propagated to all computers. This is what the law of natural selection and descent with modification mean, that not only would a million monkeys produce the complete works of Shakespeare in short time, if the right selective pressure were applied, they could produce every book ever written.